Modular Home History
Necessity truly is the mother of invention, as Plato proclaimed many centuries ago. The Greek philosopher could not have predicted the innovative technology that was to simplify the most basic of human needs for shelter. Until the late nineteenth century, most structures were built on site.
As the population of United States began to grow so did the need for affordable housing. Industrialized factory built homes became popular because they could be constructed 40% faster than stick built homes. Practicality and price also became a factor; the ability to mass-produce housing materials lessened the manufacturing costs, passing the savings onto the modern consumer. Factory built homes presented precut and fitted materials shipped by railroads and trucks.
The production line technique incorporated skilled workers to construct all of the components of the single-family home with precision and speed. From 1908 until 1940, Sears, Roebuck and Company took advantage of this new housing market and sold more than 100,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes catalogs.
The Sears Modern Homes catalogs advertised three lines of homes, meant to satisfy all of their customers financial means: Honor Bilt, Standard Built, and Simplex Sectional. The majority of these factory built homes are still lived in today.
Nearly all house construction today uses some kind of mass-produced, factory built components, such as: drywall, pre-hung windows and doors, roof trusses, floor joists, baseboard trim, and kitchen and bath cabinets. Factory assembly lines provide consistency in product quality as specialists in all fields of construction fabricate the building from components.
Today factory homes are called modular homes; they are built by hand as well as by machine. The use of modern technology and factory production systems have enhanced the factory built home construction process, but the main components have stayed the same: experienced carpenters, electricians, roofers, and plumbers all contributing their part for the greater whole.